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  1. ITV Report

Dogs provide therapeutic care for sick children in Southampton

Milo (pictured with five-year-old Isabella) is one of therapy dogs providing comfort to young patients Photo: ITV

Dogs who visit sick children in hospital in Southampton have been shown to significantly reduce the anxiety and stress of families on wards.

This is according to a study exploring the effect of therapy dogs on wards in the city's children's hospital.

A young patient stroking a therapy dog at Southampton Children's Hospital Credit: ITV

Two hundred staff and parents were questioned for the research over a the course of a year.

Findings revealed that the presence of pups on the ward helped to ease anxiety in young patients waiting for test results or operations.

For patients like Isabella Benson and her mother Abbie, the therapy dogs are a welcome addition.

Pets as Therapy, the charity who manage the dogs and accompany them into hospital, say they do more than just visit patients.

The volunteer handlers work with the doctors and nurses to come up with ways to ensure the dogs can help sick children with their treatment or recovery.

"Some children will say that they can't get out of bed and the dog arrives and suddenly they can just lean that little bit further forward and maybe we can get them out of bed with the physios.

"Other children might have a fear of going into a scanning suite or going to x-ray. Humans can be reassuring, can do whatever, but if the dog can walk into a room that maybe they have a fear of going into, then they will just follow."

– Lynsey Uglow - Pets as Therapy

For some patients like nine-year-old Gracie - the dogs make them feel more like they are at home. She has been in hospital for a year and a half and misses her own pet.

Southampton Children's Hospital's dog therapy scheme has proved so popular, that young patients across the country could now see dogs visiting their hospital wards.

  • We invited Milo and his handler Lyndsey Uglow to the studio. Watch the full interview below.